Hugues began his watchmaking studies at a historical watchmaking school in Besancon, France. One of his student projects—a skeletonized pocket watch with reversed time indication, a particularly challenging assignment—won a prize in the Concoure des Metiers d'Art a France national competition. He subsequently studied at the l'école d'horlogerie and microtechnique in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, graduated with a diploma of horologist. Hugues completed an apprenticeship at the Musée International d'horlogerie, he especially worked on restoring antique watches and clocks. He truly enjoyed rebuilt a complete Marine Chronometer with detent escapement and other precision Marine regulator instruments. In 1984 Hugues traveled to the U. S. and landed his first job in Marine County to work in a timepieces restoration workshop. Soon after he settled in Carmel, California and opened a watch retail business with many exclusive watch brands. In 1998 Chatel became the premier Panerai dealer and service center in North America. Chatel is located in a quaint village of Carmel-by-the-Sea, a must visit for watch enthusiasts.